Traveling is a great way to see the world and experience new cultures. However, for people who wear glasses or contact lenses, travel can be a bit more challenging. Because seeing the sights and experiencing the adventure is what travel is all about, having confidence in your vision correction can mean the difference between a great trip and a big waste of time and money.
Different Environments Place Difference Demands on Eyes and Vision
Trip planning when you rely on glasses and contacts to see requires a different level of detail. You want to think through the lens of the lenses you need for the trip. Making sure your eyes and vision can perform so you don’t miss out on a moment of adventure is important, particularly if you are investing in expensive excursions that can easily be ruined by a lost contact or a broken pair of glasses. Here are a few thought starters to help:
- Check the weather and the water supply at your destination. Being prepared with the right supplies to keep your glasses and sunnies clean and reliably hygienic water to keep your contacts free of contamination is a smart packing strategy.
- When you’re flying. The air on airplanes is very dry, which can make your eyes feel dry and irritated. To help keep your eyes comfortable, bring a small bottle of eye drops with you and use them as needed.
- If your adventure puts you in rugged environments, consider exchanging your contacts for glasses. While glasses come with their own challenges in hot, humid climates, you don’t want to risk an eye infection from contacts contaminated by tropical microbes.
- When you’re exercising. If you wear glasses, you may find that they fog up when you exercise. To help prevent this, try wiping your glasses with a dry cloth before you start exercising. You may also want to consider wearing a pair of sports glasses that are designed to prevent fogging.
- A word about sunglasses: Your eyes need UV protection to keep them – and your vision – healthy. Check yours are labeled “100 percent UV Protection” or UV 400 to be sure your eyes are adequately defended against sunrays.
Don’t Wear Contact Lenses in the Water
For most people, a vacation isn’t complete if there isn’t a body of water involved. Ocean, river, and lake destinations offer a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, including swimming, sunbathing, surfing, boating, fishing, and snorkeling. Oftentimes, it is a beautiful resort pool that turns a trip into a vacation. But before you jump in the ocean, pool, or lake, be sure to take out your contact lenses.
- Water can contain bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause eye infections, even if the water looks clean. Contact lenses can trap these germs and allow them to grow, increasing your risk of infection.
- In addition, contact lenses can absorb water, which can make them uncomfortable and difficult to remove, which can lead to injury to the eye.
- Goggles can help protect your eyes from bacteria and other contaminants. However, even goggles cannot provide complete protection, so it is best to avoid wearing contacts in the water altogether.
- If you do get water in your contacts, be sure to remove them immediately and rinse your eyes with clean water. You should also wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your contacts.
- If you experience any eye pain, redness, or irritation after swimming, be sure to see an eye doctor immediately.
If you enjoy spending time in the water, you probably already know prescription eyeglasses aren’t a great alternative to contacts. Water spots on lenses can make it difficult to see clearly, and glasses can pose a safety risk if they fall off. If you are into scuba diving or snorkling, purchasing diving masks with prescription lenses can be a costly solution. Some places rent prescription masks, but are unlikely to have your exact prescription. Wanting to see clearly without relying on glasses and contacts is why many travelers choose a vision correction procedure like LASIK. However, if you’ve undergone LASIK surgery recently, check in with your surgeon beforehand to make sure you are past the two-week healing period and that you have the go-ahead to enjoy water-related activities.
There are a few things you can do to make sure you have everything you need to see clearly and comfortably while you’re away from home.
Packing Tips for Glasses Wearers
- Pack an extra pair. It’s always a good idea to have a backup pair of glasses in case your primary pair gets lost or damaged. Pack your spare glasses in your carry-on luggage, so you have easy access to them if you need them.
- Bring your prescription. If you need to replace your glasses or contact lenses while you’re away, having a copy of your prescription can make the process much smoother. Ask your optometrist or ophthalmologist for a copy of your prescription before you leave.
- Pack a glasses case. To protect your glasses from scratches or damage during travel, make sure to pack a sturdy glasses case. If you’re flying, keep your glasses in your carry-on luggage rather than checking them with your other belongings.
- Bring cleaning supplies. Keep your glasses clean and smudge-free by packing a cleaning cloth or wipes. You may also want to bring a small bottle of lens cleaner and a microfiber cloth for a more thorough cleaning.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance. If your glasses get lost or damaged while you’re away, travel insurance can help cover the cost of replacement or repair.
- Research optical stores at your destination. Before you leave, research local optical stores in case you need to replace or repair your glasses while you’re away. Having this information on hand can save you time and stress if you encounter any issues with your glasses during your trip.
Packing Tips for Contact Lens Wearers
- Pack enough contact lenses. Make sure you have enough contact lenses for the duration of your trip, plus a few extra pairs in case of emergencies. If you’re flying, pack your contact lenses in your carry-on luggage in case your checked luggage gets lost or delayed.
- Bring contact lens solution. Pack enough contact lens solution to last for the entire trip. If you’re flying, make sure your solution meets the TSA’s liquid restrictions.
- Pack a contact lens case. Bring a clean, sturdy contact lens case to store your lenses when you’re not wearing them.
- Consider bringing a spare pair of glasses. Even if you prefer to wear contacts, it’s a good idea to bring a spare pair of glasses in case you have any issues with your contacts or need to give your eyes a break.
- Bring eye drops. If your eyes tend to get dry, bring lubricating eye drops to help keep your eyes comfortable.
By following these tips, you can prepare for your trip with glasses or contact lenses. However, if this packing list has you rethinking your vision correction, here is some recommended reading about safe and effective laser vision correction options that can help you see great while only needing to pack those sunglasses!